Original Date: 04/07/1997
Revision Date: 04/14/2003
Information : Basic Control Language
Programs for driving Numerically Controlled machines have historically been created by either a high level programming language such as Automatic Program Tool or a CAD/CAM system. The output data (CLdata) has always been produced in a proprietary format that depends upon both the programming system and the computer platform on which the part program is produced. A shop that utilizes several types of CAD/CAM systems and/or several different types of machine controls requires a separate postprocessor for each unique situation.
Rock Island Arsenal (RIA) was burdened with this particular scenario since it had approximately 120 Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines which required 70 separate postprocessors to support them. In the mid 1980s, RIA discovered that North American Rockwell had contracted with Vega, Inc. to develop and install Computer Numerical Controls which would accept CLdata as a direct input without postprocessing. The outcome was a new standard for CLdata, titled RS494, the first Basic Control Language (BCL) for CLdata. Using this newly found information, RIA joined the newly formed BCL Users Group. Since RIA was intending to purchase 70 new CNC machines, it was decided to specify BCL as the NC input format for these purchases. RIA also purchased converter software for existing equipment. Converter software translates the proprietary CLdata into BCL Standard CLdata. Some of the benefits derived from BCL include one postprocessor for all machine tools; no alternate program re-proofing or re-programming; and reduced training requirements. Currently, RIA has 46 BCL compatible machines, and supports an additional 36 non-BCL machines by way of a BCL input generalized postprocessor.
By adopting standard CLdata, RIA can capture manufacturing lessons learned and pass the information via electronic data exchange to other DOD facilities to improve response time during emergency mobilization events.
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